Posts Tagged ‘Moonee Valley Racecourse’

It’s Spring carnival again and the betting agencies are lining up and throwing offers at punters left, right and centre.  It all sounds great with free betting and getting paid the win for finishing second and bonus bets and best tote odds etc.  Even with all that, most punters will lose money on the horses this Spring, and in worst case scenarios for punters, they will be on the path to gambling addiction – which is the best case scenario for the betting agencies.  This article has some tales of woe, plus the facts about Australia’s gambling habits.



‘Three months, half a million bucks’: Paying the price for a punt

Nick Toscano

27th October 2018

In the front seat of his parked car, a middle-aged man sits dressed in his running clothes; collar unzipped, sunglasses above his forehead. It’s three o’clock in the afternoon and the middle of a drought in this part of Australia, so the air outside is warm and sunlight beams in through the rear windscreen glass.

Shuffling in his seat, Peter* begins explaining why he has to have this conversation here in his car instead of at home. For a moment, he can’t help but laugh. But the situation is far from funny, and his laughter trails off.

In the space of three months, Peter says he’s lost half a million dollars by gambling online. Every night, with multiple betting accounts on his smartphone, he’d been laying down huge sums on horse races – races in Australia, or Hong Kong, or wherever there was a race on. When there were no horse races left, he would bet on the greyhounds. If there were chickens running around, he’d probably have bet on them too. Having lost all control, he swiftly lost everything. And still, to this day, no one in his family knows about it.

“It was an absolute frenzy – bet, bet, bet, late into the night, early into the morning,” he recalls. “Three months, half a million bucks … it’s all gone now.”

Spring in their step

Springtime has arrived in Australia, and the spring racing season is in full swing. For the nation’s betting industry, this is the busiest period on the calendar. At pub terminals, at race tracks, on computers, tablets and mobile apps, hundreds of thousands of people will place a wager, just like they do every year. Over eight major race days, Australia’s biggest gambling company, ASX-listed Tabcorp, expects punters to turn over more than $1 billion.

The overwhelming majority of bets will be placed by ordinary people, betting moderately, betting for a bit of fun. The average amount is less than $20. For others, however, their betting is not so innocuous. According to recent research, an estimated 200,000 Australians are considered “problem gamblers”, that is, people who continue to gamble despite the dire impact it may be having on their lives.

Although Australians lose far less money betting on sport ($1.06 billion a year) and racing ($3.3 billion) than they do on pokies or casino games ($17 billion combined), the smartphone era has propelled online wagering into the fastest-growing form of gambling nationally – rocketing more than 15 per cent a year – a statistic that has some policymakers worried. The 24/7 availability of online gambling and the idea that digital transactions can seem “less real” have given rise to very real concerns that the danger of developing problematic gambling habits may be greater online.

“The majority of gambling in Australia happens in relatively controlled social environments like clubs, pubs, casinos and race tracks,” said Scott Morrison in 2015, when he was social services minister. “Online or interactive gambling creates vulnerabilities because it doesn’t share such limited controls and protections.”

Leading into Melbourne Cup week, with online bookmakers in fierce competition for market share, it is with these worries in mind that the rope is about to get tighter around the global online gambling giants here and the services they provide.

After three years and a series of delays, state and federal politicians are finalising a suite of new standards for the industry, aimed at tackling problem gambling risks online and beefing up protections for consumers.

Sportsbet, BetEasy, Ladbrokes, Bet365, Betfair and Unibet dispute the notion that problem gambling risks are greater online, arguing their technology provides punters tools to limit spending in a way that physical betting terminals cannot.

But they have been widely accepting of a series of concessions and, through their industry group Responsible Wagering Australia, have proactively helped government develop many of the incoming online gambling reforms, chief among them being a “national self-exclusion scheme” for people trying to quit gambling.

The first of its kind in Australia, the scheme will allow gamblers to ban themselves across state lines and across all betting sites at once on smartphones, computers and tablets. Also among the soon-to-be-introduced measures are a voluntary, opt-out pre-commitment system for punters to set their own limits, and a nationwide ban on bookies offering “inducements” to encourage people to open accounts.

Other figures on the frontline of the issue – such as problem gamblers themselves and the financial counsellors who assist them – are supportive of the new rules but argue the package doesn’t go far enough, fearing it falls short of what is truly needed to protect the vulnerable. One of the biggest omissions, they say, is that there is lack of enforceable requirements like in the United Kingdom for companies to take steps such as making checks on big-spending customers, monitoring their deposits and making sure they are safe.

“There is no clear duty on the company to take concrete steps to ensure their services are provided responsibly,” says Lauren Levin, the policy director of Financial Counselling Australia. “We are about five years behind the UK.”

‘It was just manic’

Just before his gambling spiralled out of control, Peter was in his 50s, recently divorced and had received a large payout following an accident. “I probably want to dodge a few points here,” he says, so as to not reveal his identity. “But when I got my payout, I was bored and lonely and started punting.”

Drinking heavily and taking powerful pain medication, he opened accounts with multiple online bookmakers including two of the biggest, Ladbrokes and CrownBet. His bets ranged from $10 or $20 to many thousands. In several instances, he wagered as much as $20,000 per race. Most nights, his account records show, he was turning over massive amounts of money, like clockwork, every couple of minutes.

“It was just manic,” he says. “I actually don’t remember most of it.”

After Peter began posting serious losses, some of the bookmakers’ software identified his erratic gambling patterns and cut him off. Others, however, did not, instead making him a “VIP customer” – rewarding his big spending with free bets and offers of tickets to sporting events.

“They were relentless, they’d do anything to keep you going … to see the money keep flowing in,” he says. “The only VIP I was to them was a ‘very important profit centre’.”

Every morning, he rolled out of his bed and reached for his mobile in fear, unable to remember what happened the night before. One morning, he saw $75,000 sitting in one of his betting accounts, down from $150,000. Although Peter has now stopped gambling, and self-excluded from the sites he once used, there is a familiar feeling of dread that still greets him daily.

“I literally wake up with heart palpitations every morning,” he says.

The most important change he believes is necessary in the current political push to stem gambling harm is a providing a pre-commitment scheme that is truly binding, not just for online wagering, but for all kinds of gambling. “Very few people can afford to lose $50,000 to $100,000 a day,” he says.

The new house where Jack* lives is nothing like his old one. Small and drab, it’s sparsely furnished and situated on a busy main road, the blare of traffic audible from inside. He appears from his kitchen holding a cup of tea and a tray of biscuits and apologises for the lack of space. A large window looks out to his driveway, where there is a disused car sitting idle that he can’t afford to repair. It’s cold inside. Jack is wearing a woolen jumper and loose blue jeans. His hair is white and cropped, his eyebrows thick and dark. He is aged is in his early 50s, but looks older. A lot has changed in the past 12 months.

“I’m not the same person I was, that’s for sure,” says Jack. “If I had lived here in this house three years ago, I’d have been terribly embarrassed.”

Jack was never a stranger to the punt. He would regularly stop at the TAB on the drive home from work, to put down $20 on whatever horse race was on.

When he lost his job of 21 years, and found himself with a large redundancy payout and hours to spare, things took a turn. His depression and anxiety worsened. Online gambling filled a void.

“When I sit here now with you, to me it just sounds totally insane,” he says. “I can’t even begin to think what sort of frame of mind I was in when I was sitting there with antidepressants, sleeping tablets, you know, a couple of cans of beer and $170,000 sitting in an account that I could just keep pumping into an online bookmaker in blocks of $10,000 and $20,000 at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, on races on the other side of the planet somewhere.”

Bottom of a pit

Over seven days, betting records show, Jack lost $125,000. Much like Peter’s experience, each day began in the grip of anxiety. “What the hell did I do last night?” he would ask himself. “That was the start of your day … waking up feeling like you’re at the bottom of a pit.”

Jack hates thinking about what he’s done, and all the money he’s lost – the money he should have been using to re-establish himself post-redundancy.

Although he unsuccessfully took his case to the regulator in the Northern Territory, the jurisdiction where most online bookmakers hold their licences, Jack blames himself mostly. It was, after all, his decision to gamble. “I got online and gambled it away,” he says, “but I think these bigger companies, too, have got some blame. They, and the government, should have some sort of safeguards to stop people like me from gambling erratically.”

Two months ago, when Scott Morrison replaced Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister, he overhauled the front bench. His appointment to the social services ministry – the role overseeing the new online wagering protections, the National Consumer Protection Framework – was Paul Fletcher, a former senior executive at Optus. Fletcher is the third minister to hold the portfolio in the past 12 months, prompting concerns that the momentum behind the online gambling legislation may be waning. But, speaking publicly on the topic for the first time as minister, Fletcher has moved to assure stakeholders that the package is in the “final stages” of agreements by all governments, and anticipates it it will be “announced shortly”.

‘Self-exclusion’ push

“The framework’s 10 measures will deliver strong, nationally consistent minimum protections for Australian using interactive wagering services,” he says. “All governments have worked extensively with industry, community sector organisations, academia and individuals who have experienced gambling harm to design the framework’s measures to ensure that the online gambling standards are raised nationally.”

Gambling-reform campaigners are urging the government to prioritise the framework before the federal election, particularly the national self-exclusion scheme, which they say is a “no-brainer”.

But some are already making the case for tougher reforms such as a national regulator as opposed to Australia’s patchwork state-based regulators, stricter rules around “bonus bet” offers, and greater onus on bookies to identify and act on potentially harmful betting behaviour. In the UK, they say, companies are legally required to gain a holistic picture of the source of wagering funds and critically assess a customer’s financial capacity, or face fines running into millions of pounds.

“The Brits are leaving us for dead on consumer protection for gamblers, with a decent national regulator, a raft of recent reform and more than $30 million worth of fines over the past two years,” says Susan Rennie, of the Alliance for Gambling Reform.

Financial Counselling Australia agrees, saying the global bookmakers are forced to comply with far tougher rules in the UK than in their Australian businesses.

“Gambling companies already have software to identify changes in gambling patterns,” says Levin. “The problem is that the problem gambler is also their cash cow, so there is a reluctance to do what they should do – intervene.”

The major online bookmakers reject this claim, stressing that they “don’t want to take a cent” from problem gamblers. Aside from social responsibility obligations, industry insiders insist it is not in their commercial interests for someone to lose heavily in a short period then never bet with them again. They would rather customers bet moderately, within their means and on an ongoing basis. As one insider puts it: “Smaller bets lead to more stable outcomes and more predictable margins.”

At the height of a public and political backlash in 2016, online wagering companies formed the lobby group Responsible Wagering Australia to lift standards in the industry and restore its social licence.

The group’s director, former Labor senator Stephen Conroy, says its members have been among the leading advocates for the new consumer-protection reforms.

“Ultimately, millions of Australians enjoy having a punt and do so responsibly,” says Conroy. “What is important is to ensure there are effective tools available to assist people to continue wagering in a responsible way as well as effective permanent self-exclusion for those that have serious gambling problems.”

Tabcorp, which runs retail and online wagering services, has also supported the incoming framework, and says it has “long argued for a consistent approach” to gambling regulation. “We believe these changes will bring about a more balanced and responsible way in which betting is promoted and offered,” a spokesman said.

A few years ago, Gary* sustained an injury. A bad one. He was put under the knife in eight separate surgeries. It was quickly decided he wouldn’t return to his job full-time, but would eventually return part-time. “I haven’t worked a day since,” he says. “I haven’t been able to go back.”

As a younger man, Gary worked at a racecourse, and even had his wedding there. He had long been surrounded by horse racing and gambling. “But it had certainly never taken the toll or taken me to the places that I went to two years ago,” he says.

“When I was home after those surgeries and it became available on my phone, it was almost like Christmas had come … there were so many options, so many betting agencies.”

With two of his betting accounts, he decided to set limits on how much he could deposit, to make sure he “didn’t go overboard”. But with the third– Tabcorp’s now-defunct Luxbet – he had no limit in place. Instead, he requested a $1000 overdraft facility.

“There were some periods there where I was on some very serious medication, and I’d go 24 hours straight, I wouldn’t stop, the money would just keep going in – deposit, deposit deposit,” he recalls. Over several months, he lost about $130,000 “There was never any action, any intervention, to stop me.

“I’m not blaming anybody, I know that was my responsibility,” he says, “but it’s the way they allowed me to do it without any oversight in anyway.”

The Morrison government says the reforms will be “progressively” rolled out within 18 months. It will be too late for this Melbourne Cup, but some hope the national self-exclusion register, could be in force in time for next year’s.

“In spring racing season 2019, Australians will be expecting to see the sails of the Sydney Opera House emblazoned with graphics promoting the new online gambling self-exclusion register,” says Levin. “Now who do we call for publicity and endorsement? The PM, Alan Jones, or both?

* Names have been changed

Cox Plate 2013

Posted: October 25, 2013 by Beaner in Horse Racing
Tags: , ,

The Cox Plate is one of the toughest Australian races over the 2000m distance hosted at Moonee Valley Racecourse. Only 1 of the last 7 favourites (So You Think 2010 at $1.50 – the shortest runner in this race in the last 45 years) has actually won the race which tells you that this is never a clear cut affair. Infact, 6 of the last 10 winners have gone around at $10 or higher. The race has been dominated the past three years by 4YO’s with Ocean Park, Pinker Pinker and So You Think taking out the last three (So You Think took this out at 3YO also). Interestingly, we have a 4YO favourite in It’s a Dundeel this year the other 4YO long odds in Super Cool.


Probably the most important factor for any race. Wednesday evening rated a Dead 5 after some fairly decent rains and the worst has come and gone. Expect a dead track Friday night and it could clear up to be Good with a bit of wind and sun on Saturday.


The most important tool for any race is understanding where each horse is expected to be during the run of the race and on previous data, determining how the race will be run by those out the front. This is one of the hardest speedmaps all carnival to figure out. Last year several horses positioned three-wide during the run and it is likely this will happen again. I wouldn’t be shocked to a see a few mapped closer to the back such as It’s a Dundeel go further forward, but it all depends on how they jump and what happens in the first 200m.

Click on the Speedmap photo below to see a higher resolution map.

Cox Plate Speedmaps Small

Cox Plate 2013

1. Green Moon 59kg (Barrier 12)
Never won with this weight previously and is better suited outside of WFA races. Could be used as a pace maker to give the other Williams runners a strong tempo early. Did run well enough first up over 1400m but hasn’t shown enough to be winning this. Best on Good going.
Verdict: Grand Final is the Melbourne Cup, not this. Shocked if he wins this.

2. Happy Trails 59k (Barrier 2)
Over the correct odds today. Goes well at the track and has been set for this distance all campaign. Last start ridden for luck got a very solid ride by Dunn to victory. Barrier 2 selected to ride for luck again and is actually better weighted today against Fiorente and PDL.
Verdict: Genuine chance who maps very well needing luck.

3. Fiorente 59kg (Barrier 15)
Has positioned out the back of the field in all runs this prep and overall last four runs in general. Did position closer than midfield in the Melbourne Cup though and ran on very well. Outside barrier certainly hurts for positioning. Has every chance but in all honesty, could be a better horse for the Melbourne Cup.
Verdict: Better suited to a longer straight and will have to pass a wall of horses going wide to get the win. Has the ability to win but is certainly shorter than I would want to take. May simply just be a saver option.

4. Foreteller 59kg (Barrier 9)
Late nomination who three runs back beat home Puissance De Lune at Flemington over 1600m by a nose. Last start breezed past Super Cool with no issues and finished 4L behind Atlantic Jewel. Most people were suggesting AJ at her best was a 3L better horse than all of these and on ratings it was close to that. That gives Foreteller a genuine chance for me.
Verdict: Only accepted after the rumour was going around about Atlantic Jewel being a non-runner. That was their first win. The horse has the ability to run well and go close. Big question if he can find his best around a turn.

5. Side Glance 59kg (Barrier 1)
International hope who hasn’t won since mid 2012 over 1700m on Good at Epsom. Did run on well the next start behind a handy horse called Frankel but after that has always found a few too good. Every chance last start losing by 2L and previous to that didn’t show much in the Prince of Wales. Not the best here.
Verdict: Other international runners appeal more.

6. Seville 59kg (Barrier 10)
Tough win in The Metrop.. but the next three who finished behind wouldn’t be winning here. Speedmap for this horse is hard to figure out. Has the ability to fit forward today but from the barrier, I have Seville going mid to back of field. Doesn’t look a top hope here.
Verdict: Tactics well be the key to this runner. Not sure can win with any tactics.. but can go close to placing with the right run.

7. Rekindled Interest 59kg (Barrier 6)
Ran ok first up over 1200m but then was poor in the Epsom off a strong tempo. Goes around well enough at this track but just isn’t Cox Plate winning material at the weights.
Verdict: Won’t be winning this.

8. Puissance De Lune 59kg (Barrier 8)
Never runs a bad race. Last start was by far his best run all prep when put down almost identical sectionals to Fawkner over 2000m off a hot pace out front. Did beat home Fawkner JUST and they were the only two out the front who stuck on. Barrier 8 looks PERFECT today and you can see him sitting 3-4 back on the outside hitting the line very hard. Top chance.
Verdict: Genuine horse who gives his all. Will go very close and maps well.

9. Masked Marvel 59kg (Barrier 5)
Progressive all prep but is better over further distances than this and seems to be set for the Melbourne Cup. Looks unders here today and will be running on from the back.
Verdict: Too far back. Better swoopers in this.

10. Mull of Killough 59kg (Barrier 4)
Unlike some of the other runners, Is here for the Cox Plate. Best runs have been over 1600-200m distances. Just ignore last start run and look to two and four back. Doesn’t have a massive turn of speed but can be ridden on from the 800m and just keep producing solid sectionals.
Verdict: Tactics the key. Looks a blowout chance at big odds. At least worth a few bucks.

11. It’s A Dundeel 57.5kg (Barrier 13)
First up run in the Memsie wasn’t very impressive when had every chance and couldn’t show enough for mine. Next start in a slowly run Underwood mapped well enough and snuck his nose out to win. In the big races has always gone close but it’s hard to forget Reliable Man winning the Queen Eliz last prep over him and Happy Trails just 0.5L behind. How much has that set back with the hoof issue affected him also? Then also the plate that has been fitted.. how much ground does he lose? Is certainly a big chance, but with all these factors, and the price, can you really have on top? Outside barrier also hurts.
Verdict: Is his best on a corner track? Beaten by Super Cool in the Vase last year here. Going much better than that run but still a concern. Can go close but barrier draw did hurt and limit tactics.

12. Super Cool 57.5kg (Barrier 14)
Convincingly beaten last start by AJ and Foreteller. Gains half a KG today against Foreteller but on previous four runs this prep, several horses here have always found a way to beat him.
Verdict: Can’t see SC beating a number home of these home.

14. Long John 49.5kg (Barrier 11)
Just how good is he? People are suggesting ‘there are no Pierro’s or All Too Hard’s in this field’. Well, I tend to disagree. Long John has progressed significantly all prep and has shown a great deal of talent. His sectionals have been solid ridden forward or back and with no real pace runners in the race, could sit out the front and find a moderate pace on. Seems to be screaming out for 2000m and is a big chance.
Verdict: It all depends on the tempo and how good the ones behind are. Has a chance and money has been coming for him.

15. Shamus Award 49.5kg (Barrier 3)
Can’t be ignored. Ran Divine Calling at course to a head and we know how well Divine Calling did last start behind Long Jonh. Shamus Award also ran on very well in that race from the back and can certainly position further forward from barrier 3. Some maps suggest Shamus and Long John could be leading this up.
Verdict: Looks to be suited by the up in distance and isn’t the worst at the odds.. but even if improves probably does find one or two too good.

The Key Chances

In no particular order, I have moved all of the runners into one of four categories. Just to explain what it all means, just because a runner is in the Medium Chance pile doesn’t necessary mean they aren’t a good bet. It means they need a fair bit of luck and the right circumstances.

High Chance

Puissance De Lune
Long John
Happy Trails
It’s a Dundeel

Medium Chance

Shamus Award
Mull Of Killough

Low Chance

Side Glance
Super Cool

Minimal Chance

Green Moon
Rekindled Interest
Masked Marvel

Cox Plate 2013 Tips

Top Pick – Puissance De Lune

He has done nothing wrong all prep. The majority of the key chances will be sitting behind him in running and if they can out sprint him, then they are simply better horses. He maps well and has continued to rate better as the prep has gone along. If the form around Fawkner is to go off, then he comes into this ready to win.

Best Roughie – Happy Trails

The Turnbull win was brave and he was given a perfect ride. A repeat of that performance goes close here and the price is simply overs compared to the others in the race he beat home. Sure, I have a soft spot for him, but when you look at the ROI of this horse (who beat Fawkner in the Emirate’s last year), he keeps delivering.

Top 10

Puissance De Lune
It’s a Dundeel
Long John
Happy Trails
Mull of Killough
Shamus Award
Super Cool